Since my last report at 36 months (3 years old), Lucas has made steady progress. He knows all his upper case letters and even some of the lower case, which we are continuing to work on. He knows that "T" is for "Tom" and "A" for "apple" as well as many other letters, and he can sing the alphabet song (albeit slowly), including signing many of the letters (which he learned from Rachel of Signing Times). We've also been working on his sight reading (although not as much in the last couple of months) and he knows "cat" and "dog" and "pig" and about another dozen words.
He can now say "Lucas" as opposed to "U-cas" -- one of the greatest improvement with his speech is his articulation. He use to say "awr" for "water" and now he says the word clearly. That's true for many other words too. He's also stepping up his 2- and 3-word phrases and beginning to use "and" and "that" and other parts of sentences. His speech therapist expects him to begin using short sentences very soon. The other thing that is happening is that Lucas is able to start telling us what happened so when we ask questions, he puts together answers with his limited speech and/or answers "yes/no" questions with fairly good accuracy. We found this out when he bit another boy's ear a couple of months ago and told us "Carter's ear" and when we asked him if he bit Carter, he fessed up with a "yeah!" Not my proudest moment for his behavior, but was sure proud he was able to communicate what had happened. He knows his friends' names, his teachers, and his family, and calls everyone by their names or his nickname for them. When you ask "What is your name? or "How old are you?" he can answer both questions.
Lucas is enjoying engaging in play with friends as well as in dramatic play. He likes to play with his animals and often wants to bring them with him. He is getting more independent, although he's also become a better listener (thank God!). He's following directions with more accuracy, including 3 and 4-step directions. We moved a few weeks ago, and Lucas is now waking up and going to his playroom and playing alone for a few minutes before yelling "Daddy" and "Mom" for us to join him.
Lucas is counting to 10 -- and now knows the concept of "one" so he'll give you "one" block (which is one of those pesky test questions). And we're starting to count things, such as toes! So, he's beginning to understand the concept of counting and not just memorizing the numbers.
Hands down, one of Lucas' biggest accomplishments since my last entry is his potty training. We put him in undies on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and haven't looked back. Sure he has accidents, but they are becoming less frequent, especially number 2. He's had not more than a handful of accidents at school in the last few months...he's way more lax at home. He's starting to tell us if he has to go, again, especially number 2.
In the fine motor skills area, we're working on getting him to cut with scissors (although he doesn't like cutting) as well as unscrew jar lids. His OT (occupational therapist) has had us working on strengthening his trunk which will help with everything, especially once he starts handwriting which tends to be a big challenge of kids with DS. Lucas eats with both a spoon and fork, although he prefers a fork and continues to be really messy. He's getting much better about coloring/writing on paper (not walls), although he needs to be watched.
As for gross motor skills, Lucas has become a climbing machine. He loves the playground and has become very independent on the equipment. He goes up the ladder to slide down the biggest slide, without fear. He's still working on riding a tricycle, and although he's mastered the activity, we are working on building his leg muscles so he can go farther distances as well as on different terrain. He's still working on jumping in place, although he's enjoying jumping on a trampoline...his PT (physical therapist) explained jumping on a trampoline requires a different skill...who knew?
The one thing I have mixed feelings about is how much Lucas has taken to the TV. He LOVES "Madagascar" and "Madagascar 2" -- he tells you whether he wants to watch "Lion 1" or "Lion 2" -- he knows the DVDs so well he's starting to play along some of his favorite scenes, including the dancing. He loves DVD concerts/music by "Raffi" and "the Bee" (Laurie Berkner Band). He also enjoys "Buzz and Woody" of "Toy Story" and continues to be fond of "Signing Times" too (at least that's educational). Lucas was a huge fan of "American Idol" this season or as he calls it "singing". Lucas loves books and reading, although he is now equating books with sleep at night, so he sometimes fights it. His favorite books are "Move Over Rover" and "The Little Engine that Could" although he still loves "Kiss Goodnight."
We now are preparing for Lucas to transition from the Debbie School's early intervention program into Pre-K3. We will face his first IEP (individualized education plan) which is a yearly meeting of his education team -- including a placement specialist and teacher from Miami-Dade county schools, his teacher, speech therapist, and case worker at the Debbie School -- to discuss and put together his developmental goals and arrange his placement for the school year. I'm nervous because Lucas is doing so well, I know he will lose some of his services as a result (he now gets 2x week speech therapy, 1x week occupational therapy and physical therapy). I'm not sure what the county will be willing to pick up, so we need to know our rights and be well prepared for the meeting. Say a little prayer for us and stay tuned for the outcome.